More flights from Bishkek land at Lahore, Islamabad

Total number of students fleeing violence in Kyrgyz capital reaches 540

Our Correspondent May 20, 2024


Another flight carrying Pakistani students landed at Islamabad airport on Monday, bringing the total number of students evacuated from Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, to 540 following last week's mob violence, officials said.

Late on Sunday, more than 350 students arrived in Lahore and Islamabad. The government had announced four special flights to evacuate Pakistani students after clashes erupted between local groups and international students in Bishkek.

Kashmir Affairs Minister Amir Muqam welcomed the students at Islamabad airport under special instructions from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. He inquired about the students' well-being and assured them of the government's full support.

Speaking to the media, Muqam said more flights would soon bring additional students back home. “Our top priority is the safety of Pakistani students. The protection of the life and property of Pakistanis will be ensured in every case,” he stated.

Kyrgyzstan is a popular destination for education, particularly in the medical field, attracting a significant number of students from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and other countries. The recent turmoil began last week after a video went viral on social media, showing a dispute over dues between locals and some foreign students, apparently Arabs. This altercation escalated into violent attacks on student hostels and residences.

The Pakistani students returning from Bishkek on Sunday had shared nightmarish accounts of mob attacks, threats, and injuries - both psychological and physical -  lamenting that they felt left out in the cold by indifferent authorities.

Read 171 students repatriated from violence-hit Bishkek

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, who was tasked by Prime Minister Shehbaz to visit Bishkek to help the stranded Pakistan students, said on Sunday he had called off the ministerial visit at the request of Kyrgyz authorities after he was informed that the situation had returned to normal.
Quoting the Kyrgyz authorities, Dar told reporters that a total of 16 foreign students were injured in the mob attacks, which included some four to five Pakistanis. Dar categorically stated that no Pakistani student had died in the violence there.

Talking to the media after receiving the returning Pakistani students at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar assured that all possible measures would be taken to facilitate the students returning from Bishkek.

Tarar welcomed 170 Pakistani students returning by a special flight from Bishkek. He noted that it was the fourth flight from the local Kyrgyz airline, Aero Nomad, bringing the total number of returning students to 540. He added that another special flight would bring back the injured students.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Higher Education Minister Meena Khan Afridi said in a statement that Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur would receive the returning students from the province upon their arrival at the Peshawar airport.

Finance Minister Muzamil Aslam said that the provincial government had released Rs60 million for the students’ return from Bishkek, noting that additional funds would be released as more people registered. He added that K-P government would also support return of students from other provinces.
Faizullah Faraq, a spokesperson for the Gilgit-Baltistan government, said in a separate statement that a list of some 80 students from the region had been provided to the Foreign Office for their safe return from Kyrgyzstan. He pointed out that a large number of them were female.

The arrival of special flights began on Saturday, when the first batch of returning Pakistani students landed in Lahore. On Sunday, more than 350 students landed in Lahore and Islamabad. The government had indicated to operate more flights to facilitate more students.



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